Study: Social Media Usage Result in Gradual Brain Imbalance

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It’s important that people are aware of how much time they’re spending on social media. This is especially true since a new study published in the Journal of Management Information Systems reveals that higher amounts of use on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, can cause an imbalance between two cognitive-behavioural systems in the human brain over time.

As explained by Hamed Qahri-Saremi, humans have two different structures in their brains that influence their decision making. Based on this dual system perspective, an established theory in psychology and neuroscience, researchers were brought to their developments tying unnatural use of social media and cognitive balance together.

“System one is automatic and reactive, quickly triggered, often subconsciously, in reaction to stimulus such as a sight of or notifications from social media. System two is a reflective, reasoning system that moves more slowly, regulates cognitions, including the ones generated by system 1, and controls behaviour. The second system can help individuals control impulses and behaviours that are not in their best interest.” stated Saremi.

They studied the detrimental Facebook data usage of 341 undergraduate college students from a populous university in North America. They analyzed the cognitive behavior of students throughout one semester and then got back together with each student the next semester to survey their academic performance, all while taking into account the students’ grade point average and the cumulative average of both semesters. The students treating themselves to high and more problem causing levels of Facebook use had a strong cognitive-emotional preoccupation and a weak cognitive-behavioral control, by that generating an imbalance.

Furthermore, the results of the study displayed shocking dependence of students on the site with 76 percent of respondents using Facebook in class, while 40 percent admitted to using Facebook while driving. 63 percent reported using Facebook while interacting face-to-face with other people, and 65 percent reported using Facebook at work instead of working.

The co-author of the study, Ofir Turel, said, “The clear and strong effect of problematic social media use on an academic performance was astounding. A slight increase in problematic social media use translates into significant grade loss, and this declined performance is persistent — it remained one year after our initial study.”

The abnormal, detrimental use of Facebook was affecting students’ academic performance negatively. Over seven percent of students’ differences was directly linked to their level of high social media use.

Saremi remarked, “Unfortunately, these problematic behaviors in using entertaining IT systems, such as social media and video games, are very common nowadays with an increasing pattern. In some cases, these behaviors have resulted in grave consequences for the users, for instance the news that came out last year regarding the problematic uses of the Pokemon GO game where players were involved in accidents or being mugged, because they were carried away by the game. Therefore, there was a need for a research model that can explain why these behaviors emerge and how they can be mitigated, which is portrayed by our work quite well.”

Saremi went on to emphasize the seriousness of putting a limit on social media use and added that the next steps in this area of research would have a wider variety of other contexts such as video games, texting, and other social media.

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